Traffic courts should add mercy to justice



There is no doubt that the smile and the spontaneous way in which Saudi student Tahani Almanea spoke while defending herself in an American court after committing a number of traffic violations played an important role in freeing her from paying any traffic fines. Tahani has turned into a TV star and many Saudi TV channels are racing to hold an interview with her.

At the same time, we should not neglect the role of the judge who is being called the “Judge of Mercy”. He succeeded in turning his courtroom from one of punishment and discipline into a court of justice and mercy. He deals with traffic violators in a humanitarian way. He investigates through his court sessions the conditions and reasons why people have committed traffic violations. He talks to them about their social lives and problems and attempts to determine if there was a problem when the violation occurred.

He summons the traffic officer to the courtroom in order to hear his side of the story, and tries his best to prevent people from paying fines. He believes in justice and mercy. He, however, faces a lot of objections from legislators in his state because he is depriving the state from income because of cancelling violations and reducing fines.

This judge is in his 80s and this is the age of wisdom. He was not forced to retire because of his old age. He is the son of an Italian who immigrated to America at the time when Mafia members and gangs were coming to America and spreading corruption. There is a huge difference between them and him.

The experience of Tahani will remain in her memory.

Why not benefit from the experience of this judge. We need to install leniency in our traffic system and make it be on the side of people and not be opposed to them. We need justice and leniency. There are many drivers who deserve traffic fines. But perhaps kind acts and mercy from traffic officials may help people to drive more carefully. It may be that tough punishment has made these violators more stubborn and more likely to commit violations.

Twitter: @T_algashgari